Meet our Young Achievers – Spring 2018 Graduation Profiles
Mardwina Lasseur is an impressive young woman. At 19, she has accomplished many firsts, including being the first in her family to graduate from college.
Currently living in Miramar, Florida, Mardwina has achieved a 3.94 GPA and is receiving her Associate of Arts with a concentration in pre-nursing. She plans to continue pursuing her degree through transfer to the University of Florida (UF) or Florida International University (FIU) in the fall. Although these achievements are certainly impressive, they are not the whole story.
Mardwina was one of only six awardees selected from across the United States to participate in the DREAM 2018 conference in Nashville, Tennessee. This conference brought together more than 2,300 higher education leaders, policy-makers, thought leaders, and exceptional students with the goal of empowering community college students to have better economic opportunities and achieve their dreams. When remembering her conference experience, Mardwina said, “I discovered the diligent efforts being made by Achieving the Dream, and its member institutions, to bridge the success gap between traditional students and underrepresented students, such as students of color, low-income students, and first-generation college students.” No doubt, this conference was particularly meaningful to Mardwina who wasn’t sure how she would pursue post-secondary education due to her family’s financial constraints.
During her two years at Broward, College Mardwina was an Honors Scholarship recipient, She explained that she probably wouldn’t have been able to attend Broward College without it. Even with scholarships, she has had to work part-time to help with personal needs. All this while attending classes and volunteering at Memorial Regional Hospital.
When asked what made her college experience successful, Mardwina said, in addition to her scholarship, being in the Honors Institute program was an enormous help. It not only aided her in figuring out how to complete rigorous coursework but provided her with the necessary resources to excel in higher education. She said, “I would encourage any student who is academically driven and desires fellowship with peers who have similar motivations to consider joining the Honors Institute at Broward College. Believe me, their assistance can help you achieve the dream.”
Kezia Moros-Achong was born in Miami and currently lives in Sunrise, Florida. On May 8, she will be a third generation college graduate. The witty 19-year old speaks with enthusiasm and passion when she recalls her time at Broward College. “This is home, this is family.” This institution is somewhat of a family tradition as her sister and four cousins earned their degrees here. So, when Kezia needed to decide where to start her college education, the decision was easy.
She was able to skip her senior year at Coral Glades High School to enroll early at Broward College. As a recipient of the Broward College IRM Scholarship Kezia said, “…the scholarship really helped a lot with books and tuition.” This allowed her to focus all her attention on her studies. Some of Kezia’s most memorable experiences at Broward College include attending the Disney Youth Education Series (YES) program where she learned a lot about leadership, teamwork and work culture. She was also was very active in student organizations such as the Honors Student Committee where she served as the public relations officer.
“Student involvement is key,” she said as we caught up with her at the recent Honors College Awards ceremony where she received multiple prizes for student involvement and academic achievements including multidisciplinary studies and being named to Kezia was also named to the 2018 All-USA Academic Team. With her grades, Kezia explained she could have transferred to a university after one year but treasured the support she received at the College. “The attention and dedication I received from the staff and faculty and Broward College motivated me more than I expected. Special thanks to Dr. Lulric Balzora, Professors Kaya Hamer-Small, and Kiesha King.”
Kezia is receiving her Associate of Arts and graduating as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She is looking forward to pursuing studies in law and has already been accepted to Drexel University, Boston University, the University of Tampa and Florida International University. She is waiting to hear from ivy-league institutions such as University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University before making her final decision for the fall.
He’s small in stature but Brandon’s personality is described as larger than life. Those who know him think he could easily be declared the poster student of the Robert “Bob” Elmore Honors College. During his time at the College Brandon could be found at several College events including co-hosting the recent April Fireside Chat on Central Campus with the legendary Dan Rather. The 20-year-old, South Florida native whose parents are originally from Suriname brings a positive attitude to everything he does.
In high school, Brandon was in the top eight percent of his class. Having worked hard, he applied to the Univerity of South Florida (USF), the University of Florida and Florida International University, however, his standardized test scores weren’t within range, and he wasn’t accepted. Brandon was devastated. Then a friend told him about the Robert Elmore Honors Institute at Broward College and, with a broad smile Brandon said, “…my disappointment turned into a blessing in disguise.”
It was a political science class during his first semester that sparked Brandon’s interest in the field. Joining the Honors Institute also gave focus and purpose to his political passion while feeding his drive to make a difference in the world. Brandon joined the Model United Nations (MUN) team and traveled to many cities including the UN headquarters in New York. Brandon said this visit was a turning point in his life “I feel like my purpose in the world is to work at an organization to develop peace, human rights, and sustainable living.”
Brandon is receiving his Associate of Arts and has been accepted to the University of Florida to pursue a bachelors degree in international relations. His ultimate goal is to work for the United Nations. We can all learn from Brandon’s dedication to excellence and making the world a better place for all. As Brandon is fond of saying, “Everyone has something to contribute to the world; you just have to find it. Everyone has a penny to put in the pot; you just have to find out what you want to dedicate that penny to…” and do it.
“I have never been surrounded by such a diverse group of students. I had the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds, learn from their challenges and experiences and they learned from mine,” explained Jadd. The soft-spoken 22-year-old is a Palestinian American Muslim who has done exceptionally well in his academic studies. Jadd, who boasted a 3.91 GPA when we spoke to him a few weeks before graduation was named a 2018 Jack Kent Cooke semifinalist. However, what is most impressive is his dedication to service and the community. His involvement includes a feeding program for the homeless in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, the Minority Male Initiative, a program aimed at helping young men of color achieve their academic dream and his work with the Muslim Student Association.
Jadd always wanted to be involved and that drive was strengthened when he served as treasurer of the Muslim Student Association. “This is where I came to the realization of the struggles of minority students. It made me want to work to break boundaries and common misconceptions of different race groups and bring the student body together to have a better understanding of each other.”
Jadd said being a part of the Robert “Bob” Elmore Honors College has impacted not only his academic achievements but his character. He fondly recalled how his involvement in the Model United Nation (MUN) helped him overcome his fear of public speaking. “Who knew that I would have the confidence to address a committee of over 80 people from carrying nationalities and background about issues impacting the world,” he said with a proud smile.
In addition to graduating with Associate of Arts, Brad said he will leave Broward College with a wealth of experience. “The Honors College adopted me when I thought I was not qualified to do any of the things I have achieved. It has provided me with a family and lifelong friends that are committed to making their mark on the world, and that is the greatest honor of them all.”
It’s been no easy feat to get to this stage for Jadd, he has three other siblings and has had to face a number of financial hurdles to complete his degree. “I don’t know how I could have completed my goals without the scholarships.” Jadd will move on to Florida International University in the fall as he continues his journey to becoming a biomedical engineer.